The answer is: it depends.
If you do all your business in Australia, .com.au is the way to go. There are few reasons why. One is SEO, search engine optimisation – also known as, “appearing in Google search results”.
When you search for something, Google is smart enough to know where you are. When it realises you’re searching from within Australia, it usually assumes you will be more interested in Australian websites, and it puts those sites higher in its results than international sites. A site with a country-specific domain like .com.au will rank better in that country than elsewhere. .au immediately identifies you as an Australian business.
It’s worth considering whether you need multiple domain names. If you have customers in New Zealand, South Africa or China, for example, you might also want to register the .nz, .za or .cn domains too. If they’re available, you should register the domain in every country you intend to operate. This will help search results, but it also protects your name. But beware, if you purchase too many domain names and have them all providing the same content, search engines can see this as spamming and might penalise you. Web development companies like iFactory can help you with this if you're not sure.
If you’re purely an Australian company, here’s another reason why .com.au is a good idea. Australian web users have gotten used to seeing the .au and tend to automatically tag it at the end of an address.
.com used to be more appealing in years gone by when these domains were significantly cheaper than the .au version. But the prices of .com.au domains are less now and the difference isn’t that much any more – it could be as little as $10 a year.
Sometimes your decision will depend on what domain names are already taken, so do some research before you decide. Often it’s a good idea to grab both – .com and .com.au. This means you’re covered if people type the wrong thing. It can also help you avoid unpleasant run-ins with the people who own the other version down the track.
If the more common domains are taken, you do also have the option of alternate domains like .net and .biz. These are less common and many users will assume an address ends in either .com or .com.au, so these options are less desirable.
The big question is: Where are your customers?
iFactory is a full-service digital and creative agency specialising in web development in Brisbane. We work directly to deliver professional internet solutions. Contact us to discuss what domain name is right for you and how we can help you with your hosting and domain name registration.